Heating up - GulfToday

Heating up

Michael Jansen

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Sir David Attenborough

In the run-up to the ongoing climate summit in Glasgow Sir David Attenborough, the world’s most prominent climate campaigner, warned against delay in tackling the causes of global warming. “If we don’t act now, it will be too late.” In an interview with the BBC’s David Shukman, Sir David said, “Every day that goes by in which we don’t do something about it is a day wasted.”  

He dismissed climate change deniers’ accusations that he and others had been issuing false alarms by saying that they had been simply reporting on the findings of scientists over the past 20 years.

He argued that little regulated industrialisation pursued by wealthy countries is “one of the major factors in producing (climate change). So we have a moral responsibility” to slow the climate change and provide aid to the “thousands of men, women and children who’ve lost everything, everything. Can we just say goodbye and say this is no business of ours?”
At 95, Sir David is, almost certainly, the planet’s oldest climate warrior. He said at his age he could “not plan very far ahead” but if he feels he can address a day’s work when he gets up each morning, “then I jolly well do it and be grateful.”

He made his name during a long career during which he made scores of documentary films on natural science, animals, plants, and the planet. Born in 1926, he studied natural science at Cambridge University before completing two years of service in the Royal Navy. In 1952, he joined BBC television where he lunched his famous “Zoo Quest” series and proceeded to complete the rest of his oeuvre. Although in 1985, he was knighted for his services to television, he carried on with filming plants, birds, the Antarctica and Wildlife Specials. During his 50 years of programming, he became one of the most travelled men on earth.

While Sir David has been invited to address the summit, Greta Thunberg,18, who in 2018 staged a one person strike every Friday outside the Swedish parliament until her country’s politicians addressed climate change. Students across the world responded by following her example, launching a children’s crusade to put pressure on global leaders to tackle climate change. She asks,“Why should we be studying for a future that soon will be no more and when no one is doing anything to save that future?”
While she is one of the globe’s most vocal climate campaigners, she may not enter the hallowed halls of the the buildings housing the Glasgow summit. During an interview with the BBC she said she has not been asked to address the summit.

Instead, she will be in the streets of Glasgow today (Nov. 5), taking part in a climate strike and has invited railway staff, council cleaners and refuse workers, who are seeking a pay rise, to join the climate activists’ march. Thunberg wrote on Twitter, “Climate justice also means social justice and that we leave no one behind.”

Between the two there is a divide of three generations. Sir David is a dedicated educator who takes a holistic approach to the earth and all its inhabitants and behaviours. His aim has been to make us respect and understand the residents of the planet rather than abuse and exterminate them.

He may have come late to join the battle against the despoilation of the planet by humankind but he has prepared us to think about our fellow inhabitants and ensure that we rescue and protect them. This is the first objective of the struggle against emissions, pollution, neglect, and outright physical destruction.

Greta Thunberg, a tiny teenager, is simply a crusader in braids, a Viking warrior, fighting against harmful human activities which destroy non-human and human life on earth. Hers is a narrow, focused approach which has resonated with fellow children of her generation.

She has both made them aware of the disasters they could face if climate change/global warming continues to build, raising the temperature to more than 1.5 degree Celsius by the end of this century. She is looking to the future of the world’s youth, a future that could be lost forever if climate change continues to wreak destruction and disaster.

Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, 74, is a third global personality who is attending the climate summit. He has been a longstanding clean air and renewable energy campaigner. Schwarzenegger is an unlikely candidate for this role. A body-builder who made his name on screen as “The Terminator” and his political career as a Republican governor of California, Schwarzenegger blasted leaders who claim tackling climate change hurts the economy as “stupid or liars.”

He not only talks about countering pollution and global warming but, as a two-term governor (2003-11) he pushed legislation through which reduced vehicle exhaust fumes and greenhouse gas emissions. After leaving office, he founded the Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative and promoted carbon cutting efforts.

He has changed his personal lifestyle by driving an electric vehicle and reducing his intake of meat — since livestock produce methane gas – and claims that he is healthier as a result.

He puts little faith in the politicians to act in timely manner and sees progress being achieved due to popular pressure and technological change. He told the BBC, “There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.” His slogan for the day, is “Let’s terminate pollution.”

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